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Educational Access for Syrian Refugees

With 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the Middle East in need of education, only half have access to it. Considering that 91 percent of children around the world attend primary school, the disparity between refugees explains the effects of the Syrian refugee crisis. The great benefits of inclusion, transformation and opportunity that education provides are being held off from refugee communities. They struggle with poverty, homelessness and many other issues. Without access to quality education, many fear the children of the Syrian refugee group will become a lost generation. Overall, it is vital to improve educational access for Syrian Refugees.

Education for Syrian Refugees: The Big Picture

The issue of educational access for Syrian refugees is far more than a humanitarian issue. It affects economic, social and security sectors on a global scale. The Syrian crisis has produced the largest current refugee group in terms of population. Likewise, the global system will communicate benefits of a positive future for such a large population.

However, without proper education, refugee children are at a greater risk of several hardships. These include child labor, extremism, and desperate poverty.

Important world figures have expressed that these risks are why the Syrian refugee crisis is of global interest. For example, UN Chief Guterres stated: “that if the world fails to support refugees, the world is only helping those [extremist groups] that use the arguments in order to be able to recruit more people to put at risk our global security. Solidarity with Syrian refugees is…not only an act of generosity, it’s an act of enlightened self-interest.”

Initiatives That Are Helping

Though a lot of refugee children are unable to access quality education, there are several initiatives in place that are providing education for children who are in need. Human rights efforts in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt are all working to provide education accessibility for Syrian refugees. These efforts are resulting in benefits of empowerment and opportunity for a population that is in great need of assistance.

A report provided by the Brussels Conference shows a strong increase in the percentage of enrolled refugee children in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq since 2015. For instance, Turkey presents one of the largest increase. This is very important considering the country is home to the largest refugee population in the world.

Temporary Protection Regulation

One of the initiatives begun by the Turkish government is the Temporary Protection Regulation. It grants free access to education for Syrian refugee children. The Turkish Ministry of National Education has also greatly increased educational access for Syrian refugees by creating and accrediting temporary education centers that are led by Syrian teachers with a curriculum specialized for the Syrian Arabic dialect. Both these initiatives can be seen as to why Turkey has the highest percentage of enrolled refugee children when compared to other countries in the Middle East region.

The Double-Shift System

Another initiative that has had strong effects in increasing education accessibility for Syrian refugees is the double-shift system created by the Jordanian Ministry of Education. This system increases the availability of Jordanian schools by adding classes outside the normal hours of the school. As of 2018, there have been a creation of 206 double-shift schools to educate Syrian refugee children. Because of this, the country was able to decrease the percentage of un-enrolled students to 41 percent. This decrease from the 50 percent average shows the system’s effectiveness in providing education accessibility for Syrian refugees. Furthermore, the Ministry is hopeful the downward trend in the number of un-enrolled students will continue.

Importance of Continuing Efforts

The Syrian refugee crisis has displaced 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Only half of these refugees have access to a proper education. Many fear this lack of education access for Syrian refugees will create a generation of men and women who will never able to become contributors to the global system. Though initiatives in countries such as Turkey and Jordan have shown hope for the crisis, continued work and support are necessary to ensure this crisis will not continue.

– Jordan AbuAljazer
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Uganda
Refugees from almost all of the countries that border Uganda — such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan — chose to seek safety in Uganda over the last 20 years due to conflict.

Nakivale is a refugee settlement in Uganda that offers access to education and gives refugee children the opportunity to grow into leaders — a skillset that helps protect them from child labor and child marriage. Education in an impoverished area like Uganda can result in many positive benefits.

Educational Resources in Nakivale

Uganda encourages refugees to prosper, especially when it comes to education. Nakivale hosts more than 100,000 refugees, and provides them with numerous resources.

These resources include land, materials needed to build a home or a building where education can be present, and the opportunity to create one’s own work including through the avenue of education.

Working to Improve Educational Opportunities for Refugees

The chance to grow and build a community is embraced for refugees in Uganda. While there are indeed resources for educational opportunities, access to an established education system for children is limited in Nakivale.

However, there are initiatives for helping improve the lack of education. Since the government and the people of Nakivale are supportive of allowing refugees coming into their country, they are also willing to provide tools to promote education.  

One way that education is being improved in Nakivale is through the creation of a university. A group of young men in Nakivale created a university in the camp because they wanted to ensure that children had access to safe and adequate education.

Bridging the Gap

In 2016, 3.5 million refugee children did not have access to education. Knowledge is crucial to the impoverished because it can help them become leaders, build up their communities and keep them away from child labor and child marriage.

Refugees in Uganda have the tools and support they need to have an education. Education in an impoverished area not only benefits the people but also helps get rid of global poverty. Being educated, especially when dealing with global poverty, can help create a positive result for all impoverished populations.

– Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Flickr

Education in GreeceGreece serves as a new home for hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrian refugees. The country has opened its arms to over 57,000 refugees, over half of them women and children, thus creating a dense population of families within small areas.

Although the Greek government accepts new refugees it has no choice but to place these individuals in camps that, in many cases, do not meet humanitarian standards. The country strives to create a stable environment for these refugees, as it is estimated that the children have been out of school for an average of 1.5 years. This lack of schooling affects their potential as well as depriving them of a basic right to education, therefore education in Greece must be a priority.

With the help of volunteers, children are receiving an education through refugee schools located on campgrounds. Education in Greece, as well as many other countries besides, remains difficult for refugees to obtain.

Understanding the necessity for a learning system, the United Nations recently created a fund called “Education Cannot Wait.”

This fund aims to reach approximately 20 million refugee children who are currently denied a proper education. The European Union used money from this fund to create a pilot program on May 16, in order to begin language courses for the refugee children in Greece. These courses are currently in session to prepare children for the school year that commences in September.

Teachers will be assigned based on the language of the refugee children, which will include English, Greek and their native tongue. The Greek government plans to unveil this education program beginning in September. The Ministry of Education, responsible for running the education in Greece, began language courses beforehand to bridge the language gap that held some children back. The courses will assign two to three teachers to each 150-student classroom.

“The average length of time spent living as a refugee is now 17 years, meaning that millions of children and young people will miss out on some, it not all, of their education, severely diminishing their own future life chances and that of their families and communities,” said Tanya Steele, interim CEO of Save the Children.

Less than two percent of global humanitarian aid goes to education. Education, as the United Nations is realizing, is crucial in the long-term. Without education, studies show that children are at higher risk of crime and violence.

Schools carry the promise of opportunity and aspiration for the future. Education creates a solid foundation for the rebuilding of society for those displaced.

Education in Greece portrays how many other regions are striving to help refugees. Students here, as with many other refugee schools, are only given two days of schooling per week. With the help of the European Union and the United Nations, teachers hope to push for more educational opportunities, including a 5-day school week.

AnnMarie Welser

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Fund for Refugee EducationThe United Nations will debut a new humanitarian fund for refugee education, named Education Cannot Wait, at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

The fund’s name conveys the urgency of providing continued education for about 30 million displaced children worldwide—especially since the total number of refugees has reached its highest levels since 1945.

Considering that an average refugee stays about ten years in a foreign country, Education Cannot Wait will offer a five-year curriculum. Although based on a traditional primary school model, it will also adopt experimental methods like online learning in order to reach the greatest number of children.

The initiative offers an extension to the education supports recently promised to Syrian refugee children. In early 2016, the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) under UNICEF launched the No Lost Generation initiative that includes long-term efforts to rehabilitate displaced communities through school education and civic engagement programs.

As a result, 442,000 children across Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt gained access to a formal education.

Education Cannot Wait will also target areas such as Nepal, where 900,000 children lost access to education after the earthquake in 2015, as well as South Sudan and Nigeria, where rates of enrolled students remain low due to frequent internal conflicts.

While the majority of refugees in these states are internally displaced and remain within their mother country, their hardship in finding basic resources and a stable education is equivalent to that of stateless persons.

UNESCO’s policy paper found that more than half of the world’s refugees living outside camps have also often been neglected from data documentation and support.

UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown told reporters that Education Cannot Wait “will be the first to bridge the gap between humanitarian aid and development aid.”

Currently, the UN invests less than two percent of emergency funding to education, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – the new program aims to raise total budget of $3.85 billion.

This first humanitarian fund for refugee education is to be funded by a collaboration between private sector enterprises and over 100 philanthropists.

Haena Chu

Photo: Flickr